Linn County lawsuit creates confusion along with disruption

When Linn County announced that they intend to sue the state of Oregon for $1.4 billion over “mismanagement” of our state forests, it was immediately obvious that the process to find a lasting, balanced Forest Management Plan would be severely disrupted. What has become clear over the past few weeks though, are some serious misunderstandings about the history, purpose, and current management of state forests. Some media outlets have failed to adequately research the complex nature of these lands and the result has been some dubious reporting.

Here are a few on-point pieces related to the Linn County lawsuit:

Daily Astorian Letter: Pushy

Daily Astorian Letter: Beware “easy money”

Corvallis Gazette-Times: County lawsuit hampers state forestry collaborative efforts, Salmon rep says

Daily Astorian Letter: Economic terrorism

Daily Astorian Editorial: Difficult spot

Albany Democrat-Herald: Conservation groups oppose county class action lawsuit

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State forests should be managed for multiple benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Forest Coalition: State forests should be managed for multiple benefits

“Greatest Permanent Value” means protecting fish and wildlife, clean water, recreation – as well as timber

January 14, 2016 Portland, Ore. – A coalition of fishing and conservation groups working on Oregon’s North Coast state forests is speaking out today against a threatened class action lawsuit by Linn County, on behalf of 150 Oregon taxing districts.

At issue is whether the state can manage its forestlands for values other than timber.

Members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition emphasize that the forests are in fact mandated by state statute to provide the “Greatest Permanent Value” to all Oregonians.

OAR 629-035-0020 reads: “‘greatest permanent value’ means healthy, productive, and sustainable forest ecosystems that over time and across the landscape provide a full range of social, economic, and environmental benefits to the people of Oregon.”

As such, the coalition stands behind state efforts to manage its state lands for multiple benefits – including timber revenue.

Guido Rahr, President of Wild Salmon Center said: “Oregonians are fortunate that our state forests can provide a broad array of values including diverse recreation opportunities, drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, a rich salmon fishery, fish & wildlife habitat, and timber harvest for jobs and government revenue.”

“Therefore, our state-owned forests are more than a source of revenue for Linn County,” he continued. “What’s more, thousands of acres of state forests are clearcut every year. There is simply no more room to expand timber harvests and maintain the integrity of these forests.

Bob Rees, Executive Director of Northwest Steelheaders and long-time fishing guide said, “These lands provide the basis for multiple economies – including recreational fisheries and commercial salmon fisheries that contribute more than a billion dollars to the state economy every year. That’s a public value worth protecting.”

Tom Wolf, Executive Director of Oregon Trout Unlimited added, “We need to pass a legacy of healthy, working forests to the next generation. That includes a healthy timber enterprise, but it also requires intact watersheds for our iconic salmonid species. Linn County is forcing us into a false choice. It’s time for them to explore other sources of revenue.”

Greg Haller, Conservation Director for Pacific Rivers said: “Oregonians do not want State Forests managed like private industrial forestlands, which pollute our streams and degrade fish and wildlife habitat.”

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The North Coast State Forest Coalition seeks balanced management of the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests, an approach that protects fish & wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and recreation opportunities. Our member organizations are Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Wild Salmon Center, Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited, Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club, Native Fish Society, Pacific Rivers, and Northwest Guides & Anglers Association. Our supporters include thousands of Oregonians and approximately 100 Oregon businesses and organizations.

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Homesteader: The Precipice of a Huge Loss

Over 1600 Oregonians voiced their disapproval of clearcutting old growth as part of the Homesteader timber sale in the Clatsop State Forest. It is obvious that the loss of trees that survived the Tillamook Burn and a century of logging would be devastating, but is important to get an up-close view of what we lose along with the huge, old trees.

Complex branch structure on old doug firs provide red tree vole habitat.
Complex branch structure on old doug firs provide red tree vole habitat (photo by Trygve Steen).

Along with potential Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet habitat, the giant Douglas-firs in Homesteader have complex branch structures that provide habitat for red tree voles and are unique to old growth trees. Private and state forest logging has fragmented potential old growth tree vole habitat on Oregon’s north coast. These elusive rodents are a favored food for spotted owls and require mature conifer forests to survive. The State of Oregon lists the red tree vole as a sensitive-vulnerable species in the Coast Range Ecoregion and  the North Oregon Coast “distinct population segment” is a candidate for federal Endangered Species Act protection. (US Fish & Wildlife Service)

Northwestern Salamander found in area 2 of Homesteader
Northwestern Salamander found in area 2 of Homesteader (photo by Trygve Steen)

This Northwestern Salamander (right) lives in area 2 of Homesteader. Clearcutting renders habitat unsuitable for this species, and a forest buffer of 200–250 m surrounding breeding sites may preserve optimal environmental conditions for local populations. (Petranka, JW 1998 “Salamanders of the United States and Canada”)

Chaenotheca ferruginea  and Chaenotheca chrysocephela are rare lichen species found in area 2 of Homesteader. If found on Forest Service land, these sensitive lichens would require a buffer to protect them from impact. There are likely other rare lichens in the area.

Chaenotheca ferruginea (Orange crust under a black pin) confidently identified in are 2 of Homeaster
Chaenotheca ferruginea (Orange crust under a black pin) confidently identified in area 2 of Homesteader (photo by Trygve Steen)
Chaenotheca chrysocephela (Yellow crust under pin with light line under spore mass) Identification could be more certain with lab study
Chaenotheca chrysocephela (Yellow crust under pin with light line under spore mass) Identification could be more certain with lab study (photo by Trygve Steen)
These are just a few of the rare, sensitive, and important life forms that currently exist in the Homesteader area. If the Homesteader clearcuts move forward, these will likely all be wiped out and it will take at least a century to recover what is lost. This critical and rare refuge for so many species may, in fact, never recover. There is almost no old growth habitat left on Oregon’s north coast and the only real opportunity for conservation is on public lands. Special places like the old growth forest of Homesteader deserve long term protection, not to be wiped out for short-term profit.
This large, old western redcedar may be logged as part of the Homesteader clearcuts.
This large, old western redcedar may be logged as part of the Homesteader clearcuts.

 

State Forests in 2015

What a busy year for the Tillamook & Clatsop—we’re glad you were along for the ride!

Over the last few months, 15Skyhawk00+ Oregonians have called for long-
term protection of the Kilchis & Wilson watersheds and the Kings Mountain Recreation Area. These common sense, positive proposals would go a long way to ensuring balance on the north coast. If you haven’t yet, add your name to the list here!

The North Coast State Forest Coalition put on a number of great events with our supporters in 2015. Over 100 of you gathered with us at the Fort George in Astoria, another 50 talked forestry with us in Nehalem twice, Others have joined for presentations on clearcutting and film screenings, hikes and outings, and a fun day of activities on the Wilson River over Labor Day weekend.

Our Coalition grew! Nearly 2000 Oregonians joined our cause this year and we welcomed new partners, Pacific Rivers and Native Fish Society.

20151102-IMG_8320Wild Salmon Center hosted a photo contest to see how people could capture the magic of Fall in the Tillamook—there were many beautiful entries! Sierra Club continues to work on rewriting 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest and designed a state forest water bottle.

It hasn’t all been play, though. Despite an outpouring of public comments, the Department of Forestry is moving forward on clearcutting rare old growth near Jewell via the Homesteader timber sale, and we have yet to see conservation improvements coming from the Forest Management Planning process.

The Department analyzed what it would look like to clearcut 70% of the forest, and the results aren’t good for anyone. But some county commissioners and  representatives of the timber industry continue to call for that type of unbalanced approach.

So, our work is far from over. As a coalition, we are resolute in achieving balance on these public treasures and hope that you will continue to help us do this. Our work is only possible because of the strength of our grassroots supporters.

Through the end of the year, you can support our work to protect Oregon’s north coast state forests by giving to Wild Salmon Center through Give!Guide. Your contribution will go a long way to protecting our forest legacy!

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Support Our Work Through Give!Guide

Our Coalition is built on our thousands of supporters and the strength of our core member organizations. Currently, Wild Salmon Center is a part of the  annual Willamette Week Give!Guide. This awesome opportunity incentivizes giving with great givebacks and rewards and works to connect diverse organizations doing great work for our region.

Consider supporting our conservation work on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests by giving to Wild Salmon Center today!

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Seeking balance for the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests–clean drinking water, healthy fish & wildlife habitat, and abundant recreation opportunities